John Steward of Jesus
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Interest, Usury

The parallel section of Luke(l9:21-23) is--
"...I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow." He said to him, "I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?"(ESV)

My observations:

The lord describes the servant as a wicked and slothful servant.

The servant considered his lord to be a severe man, reaping where he had not sown, gathering where he had not strawed,taking what he did not deposit--living off the sweat of others, perhaps considered by some to be a thief.

The lord bases his judgment and advise on the words of the wicked servant, on the assumption that the lord thinks and acts like a thief.

On the assumption that the lord thinks like a thief, the servant should have deposited the money and "earned" interest which the lord could later collect, in keeping with the lord's desire and practice of reaping where he had now sowed and gathering where he had not strawed, collecting rather the results of others' hard work.

If we know that our Lord is such a "severe man", we should likewise consider putting our resources on deposit to collect usury.

If we do not consider our Lord to be like such a "severe man", we might rather put our resources to productive use in His Kingdom, blessing people, producing more resources and more fruit, in the spirit of the servants who were commended in the earlier sections of the parable.

I see the parable as a confirmation of the sinister nature of usury.

Regarding Deuteronomy 23:20 -"Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury, but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury."

The stranger as contrasted to a brother is a foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, outside the gates, not permitted to enter the sanctuary or eat the Passover. (Ex. 12:43, Ez. 44:9, Ob.11)

For Old Testament Israel a different standard applied to the treatment of a stranger. An animal which died naturally could not be eaten, but it could be sold to a stranger. Debts to brothers were released every seven years, but debts to strangers could still be collected. Usury could be charged of strangers. (Deut. 14:21, 15:3)

It seems that taking advantage of strangers was tolerated to some extent. Those who suffered because of this toleration may have been thankful that they were not killed outright as many of the inhabitants of Canaan were.

Jesus made it clear in Matthew 5 that the standards in the Kingdom of Heaven are higher than they were in the Old Testament.

As I meditate on his directive to love my enemies, my conscience does not permit me to exact usury from anyone. I am (as much as is possible) to live at peace with everyone, to treat others as I would be treated.

I would not pretend that these observations should be part of a new Pharisaical code. I am only responding to the invitation for "comments".

As has been said, it is a matter of the heart. And, getting out of Babylon is not as urgent as getting rid of Babylonian thinking, feeling, and acting.

Those successful in this may find themselves ejected from Babylon.